Industry has pledged to partner with the Government to tackle the hazard of air pollution. Towards this, CII is launching a Clean Air – Better Life campaign, Swachh Vayu-Dirghayu. The CII initiative will engage business, civil society and Government to learn from peers and take actionable steps to improve the air quality and reduce air pollution in Delhi NCR.
The specific objectives of the Swachh Vayu-Dirghayu are to:
- Develop an integrated approach that brings together policy-makers, industry, academia, community and civil society.
- Build consensus and get a buy-in from stakeholders on actions for improving the air quality in NCR.
- Deliver voluntary commitments from stakeholders towards reducing air pollution.
- Influence adherence to existing policies and advocacy towards newer policies.
Concerned about the severe air pollution in the National Capital Region in recent days, which affected normal activity such as schools, construction activities, and led to a ban on diesel generator sets, among others, CII has presented several recommendations on working towards cleaner air. These are:
- Soil and road dust contributes 26% of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 in summer in Delhi, according to a report by IIT Kanpur. CII recommends collecting soil and road dust by vacuum cleaning and using it for filling low-lying areas.
- Burning of straw leads to 26% of PM 2.5 in winter and 12% in summer in Delhi.The Government should incentivize the use of ‘happy seeder’ to convert rice straw into mulch as fertilizer. Biomass and agri-waste may be used in biomass plants or as raw material for the pulp and paper industry. This will incentivize farmers to reduce burning.
- Vehicles which contribute 25% to ambient PM 2.5 levels require various actions such as retrofitting of diesel vehicles, zero-idling by public, school and defence vehicles, and promoting non-motorized transport. The high excise duty on ethanol may also be reduced and more tenders floated by oil marketing companies, to encourage ethanol-blended clean fuel.
- Industrial sources of pollution include thermal power plants, foundries, ready-mix concrete plants, and fly-ash, among others. Commercial establishments and hotels using coal also contribute to air pollution. These should be encouraged to switch to cleaner fuels. The construction industry should use water sprinkling, curtains and dust suppression units. Diesel generator set emission norms need to be enforced.